latest news, march 2008

Do nothing and the club will die
By Nigel Dean

Saturday 1st March 2008

THE turbulent history of Weymouth Football Club took another twist this week.

Owner Malcolm Curtis announced in a statement that his company Wessex Park Limited have taken over control of the land surrounding the Wessex Stadium and injected £500,000 into the Terras' bank account.

The ground and all its facilities remain in full control of the football club and the future of the Wildcats speedway team remains unaffected.

The property developer says action had to be taken to secure the short, medium and long-term future of the club. He states the club was losing £10,000 a week when he took over last October and that figure has been reduced to only' £7,000 at present.

He says surprisingly that the club is carrying a significant debt. I was under the impression that when former chairman Mel Bush left, that the Terras were debt-free.

Wessex Park will have the option to acquire the stadium in return for providing a new purpose-built stadium elsewhere.

On the surface this all seems to be positive news but this new development does raise a vast array of unanswered questions.

The £500,000 handed over to the club is a small fortune for a club of Weymouth's size but has the club been sold short?

Especially as that sum will only cover the weekly debt for approximately 18 months.

A fair few number of shareholders will probably be wondering why they didn't get a voice or were not informed about the decision.

They will also be questioning why there was a need to transfer the land over to Wessex Park Limited.

The work of the Terras Trust has been put under scrutiny. Perhaps they should have contacted Supporters Direct for legal advice on the matter.

It would be interesting to know how much the land at the Wessex Stadium is valued. No doubt the planning restrictions on the site will affect the price.

Former chairmen Ian Ridley and Martyn Harrison have always insisted there was a clause stopping this kind of deal going through and I think they fell out over the very same subject.

The talk of moving to a new ground seems to be taken for granted, but is there a suitable site in or around the town and what happens if there is nowhere to go?

If a supermarket is interested in buying the ground, how many years would it take to turn around planning restrictions and can the club, or Curtis, wait that long?

There are no easy answers to any of these questions.

Let's face it, the club is always going to lose money at the Wessex Stadium no matter who is running the club.

It's not feasible to have only a guaranteed 23 pay-days a year with no other major income streams. Something has to be done and yes this decision has had a mixed reaction but to do nothing is probably the worse-case scenario.

Because Curtis is a property developer, people are suspicious, but they will have to put their faith in his decisions and hope he is making them in the best interests of the club.

Yes, fans are not naïve to think that he will not be trying to make a profit for himself. That would be unrealistic and if we were in the same position we would do exactly the same thing.


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